The Problem with Over-Pronation

foot solutions, feet, ankles
The right foot with excessive pronation, viewed from behind. Ouch!

Your feet are the foundation of your body. And, like any good foundation, proper alignment is crucial.

In a building, a crooked foundation can lead to cracked walls, windows and doors that don’t open and close properly, or perhaps a leaky roof. In short, a poor foundation leads to a more rapid deterioration of the structure above.

The same is true for human bodies. If the feet are crooked, as happens with over-pronation, the ankles, knees, hips, spine…the entire skeletal structure will also become misaligned. This can lead to deterioration of the joints, overuse and injury to various muscles, tendons and ligaments, painful nerve problems (such as neuroma and sciatica) causing a variety of issues including shin splints, ankle, knee, hip, back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, joint replacement surgery, runner’s knee (patellofemoral pain syndrome), IT band syndrome and more.

In the feet and ankles, over-pronation causes misalignment of the foot and ankle bones and excessive stretching of muscles, tendons and ligaments which can cause heel and arch pain, metatarsalgia, plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, bunions, hammertoes, neuroma, hallux rigidus, sesamoiditis, Achilles tendonitis, bone spurs, posterior tibial tendonitis and more.

One of the problems with over-pronation is that it doesn’t cause immediate pain. Most often it takes years of walking on over-pronating feet for the damage to result in pain — the body’s way of communicating something is wrong.

If caught early, over-pronation can be managed, restoring alignment and proper foot function and, thereby preventing many of the painful conditions that can result (many of which are often miscredited as just being a natural part of old age).

Many times, people experiencing knee, hip or back pain assume they have a knee, hip or back problem. And, while the pain in these are a symptom, often the underlying problem is poor foot alignment and poor foot function leading to excessive wear and tear further up the body.

Because foot alignment is seldom taught in medical schools, doctors may fail to make the connection between foot alignment and problems further up the kinetic chain. Thus, often they never address the root cause of the problem.

A trained pedorthist who understands foot mechanics and alignment and the ailments affected by the feet can be a critical ally to both patients and their doctors in identifying the role (if any) the feet may play in the development of symptoms in the body above.

Sylvia Doctor is a board certified Pedorthist and owner of Foot Solutions in Tigard. She is available, by appointment, to assist with issues like over-pronation.